Server Build



  • (Not really coding help, but I wasn't sure where to put this)

    I have several computers that I've accumulated from personal use, and from the business I recently started. Each of these computers comes in a varying size, shape, build, etc.

    But I want to simplify my life, and increase my computing power while I'm at it (for business purposes)

    I am trying to figure out what the best method would be to rip out all of the various mobos from laptops and desktops, and attach them to a DIY frankenstein rig that can consolidate the motherboards & hard disks into a smaller area than the 6-7 pc/laptops I have can. (This will also allow me to rip out items that are no longer relevant from older machines, and sell/donate/repurpose the old hardware to something else)

    Goal:

    • Take all the motherboards, processors, and hard drives out of the old machines
    • Mount them in a DIY creation (need help figuring out something appropriate)
    • Preferably consolidate power supply requirements (I'm thinking power strip + pico PSU's a 600w psu, since pico won't have enough sata connectors so I don't blow a circuit)
    • Ideally be self contained in such a way that I can keep my cats from using it as a space heater bed
    • Ideally be relatively easy to transport as I tend to move spaces every few years

      Basically, all the parts that are raw computing power / hard drive space is what I'm interested in, the rest will get scrapped.

      Any recommendations?

    Went with http://what.thedailywtf.com/t/server-build/1582/29?u=matches



  • Your idea is stupid. Buy a real server, run virtual machines on it.


  • SockDev

    Bloody hell, where'd you come from?



  • Sure, you want to cough up the $1700 for me to do it vs the maybe $200 i'll spend using my old hardware?

    Not only that, but the one you linked for $1700 would only support about 1/8th the hard disk space, 1/4th the ram. Though to be fair, it would save trouble on the mobos.



  • That's not the point.

    The point is your mutant frankenstein computer is going to be highly flawed. It's going to have holes that suck in dust. It's going to have insufficient or badly-optimized cooling. It's going to be odd-shaped and probably delicate. You're likely to break something while installing all of the hardware in it, assuming you even get it built.

    Does doing it right cost more? Yes, usually. You could put all the disk images on the cloud and run it that way if you want, it'll probably cost about the same but it'll be spread out as a monthly bill so maybe easier to swallow.

    And in any case, the cost of the metal cutting and assembly alone is going to run more than $2k unless you live in an area with real cheap equipment and labor. Sure you "do it yourself." Buy the tools for, say, $500 and the materials for $250. Maybe you can even get by with a $250 Dremel. But what's your time worth? Is it really that cheap? Unless you work at McDonalds, and probably even if you do, it ain't.

    But buying a server, a proper server, is what you should have done years ago, especially if you're using this conglomeration of crap for business purposes.



  • You're making a couple of assumptions which matter in this context:

    • You're assuming that it's going to use metal rather than something that's a cheap alternative (such as various types of wood with mounting screws, cooling is more designed by having proper spacing and a few fans rather than an enclosed case - the only requirement is that cats can't get in to it, not that a closure of the case)
    • Cloud costs money, when compared to a local electric bill, it's not a reasonable cost alternative
    • You're assuming this will be made for production environments, rather than a mock dev build out (which is what it's going to be used for) - I'm going to use hardware I already own which in the past has been used as a localized dev environment, and build it out to be a local 'cloud' environment
    • You're assuming I don't have a real server which I use for business, which is also wrong. But it's for production (well, pre production / beta testing, I guess?), not development.

    You can talk all you want about building out duplicate environments, using cloud services, etc. But when it comes right down to it, this project is for repurposing existing hardware for a specific set of tasks on the cheap to simulate an environment I wouldn't otherwise be able to for installs/running services since I'm just one guy doing development work on a side business that I hope to have software full launch in about 2 years (which means that I don't have an income stream for this business right now)

    Which means all purchases come from my real funds from my day job, and those funds must be split between normal living expenses, and side business hardware, software licensing, and other associated costs of startup business.

    Essentially my costs for the frankenstien should be

    1. Appropriate PSU
    2. Mobo mounting screws
    3. Wood
    4. My blood sweat and tears (which I value highly, but in this context is free)

    All other parts are already in my possession, and a simple rig (wood screwed together, with mounting screws) should be fairly sturdy in a general sense. The biggest concern would be... you know, fire. Which incidentally, I happen to know a lot about.



  • Shockingly enough, I'm agreeing with @blakeyrat. I'm usually all for doing things yourself and just making shit work, but it doesn't sound like the right choice for the circumstances you've given, esp. the whole 'business use' thing. Just claim the server back on your tax.

    Of course, if you still want to conglomerate the computers for shits and giggles, I recall seeing a similar setup done by hacking a small IKEA cabinet such that each drawer housed a minimal computer. Assuming a wide variety of motherboards (Laptop and Desktop, size etc etc), it's going to be a pain in the dick rigging everything up though. (Not to mention if you want proper grounding).



  • @Matches said:

    You're assuming that it's going to use metal rather than something that's a cheap alternative (such as various types of wood with mounting screws, cooling is more designed by having proper spacing and a few fans rather than an enclosed case - the only requirement is that cats can't get in to it, not that a closure of the case)

    1. You need to use steel mounting, to ground the motherboards. If you don't, you're going to need to run a separate grounding wire from every single goddamned mounting screw. EDIT: Don't you think if case makers could get away with much, much cheaper plastic, they would? They use steel for a reason.

    2. Unless your computers are ancient, proper cooling is essential. Especially for the laptop components you plan to shove in there, those motherboards expect a very specific airflow that you're going to have to reproduce in your Frankenstein or you're going to end up with overheated GPUs or CPUs, or even fucking network ICs. Gigabit ICs run hotter than you'd think.

    @Matches said:

    Cloud costs money, when compared to a local electric bill, it's not a reasonable cost alternative

    Which is why I was comparing it to the cost of constructing your own case/cabinet, and not the cost of utilities. If your Frankenstein case/cabinet miraculously appeared out of the blue, then yes, go ahead and use it. But it's not going to, it's something you're going to have to design and build-- that takes time, that takes tools, and that takes money, and you're very, very likely to fuck it up the first time and (if lucky) have to rebuild parts of it or (if unlucky) have to replace bits of your Frankenstein hardware that you destroyed by having them grounded wrong or having improper cooling.

    @Matches said:

    You're assuming this will be made for production environments, rather than a mock dev build out (which is what it's going to be used for) - I'm going to use hardware I already own which in the past has been used as a localized dev environment, and build it out to be a local 'cloud' environment

    I don't see how that's relevant. If you're doing business with it, buy business-class hardware. It's really that simple.

    @Matches said:

    You're assuming I don't have a real server which I use for business, which is also wrong. But it's for production (well, pre production / beta testing, I guess?), not development.

    You said in the fucking OP you were going to use this Frankenstein for business. You can't blame me for reading the fucking OP.



  • @Matches said:

    But when it comes right down to it, this project is for repurposing existing hardware for a specific set of tasks on the cheap to simulate an environment I wouldn't otherwise be able to for installs/running services since I'm just one guy doing development work on a side business that I hope to have software full launch in about 2 years (which means that I don't have an income stream for this business right now)

    That is ALL ONE SENTENCE FOLKS.

    The point I'm trying to convey to you is you're not doing it on the cheap. Not unless your time is worthless. Even if your time is worthless, you'd still come out ahead by (say) working at MacDonalds part-time for 2 months and paying for a server from that income-- and you'd probably have the finished solution sooner, to boot.

    Typically, existing hardware older than about 4-5 years old isn't worth repurposing anyway. With the sheer quantity of crap you're talking about, I'm assuming some of that hardware is older. Take the software on it and install it on the newer stuff. You'll gain peace-of-mind, because it'll be more reliable, and you'll save on your power bills.

    Also, I hate to break this to you but every business in history ever had to make some capital investments before they had an income stream.

    @Matches said:

    1) Appropriate PSU2) Mobo mounting screws3) Wood4) My blood sweat and tears (which I value highly, but in this context is free)

    You're not going to find a PSU that can power both desktop and laptop parts, and you're not going to find a single PSU that can power more than two desktops. (And I'm being generous there-- honestly you'll have a lot of trouble finding one that'll power more than one desktop.) There is no way you can do this with a single PSU.

    I've already talked about why wood is the wrong choice for materials for this project.

    Your blood sweat and tears are never "free" in any context. Everything has opportunity-cost you have to weigh.

    Knowing a lot about fire is great, but it's not going to help when your wooden Frankenstein computer thing goes ablaze at 2:00 AM on a Sunday and you've lost everything because all of your eggs were in one Frankenstein computer thing basket.

    Look if you want to make something yourself, fine. I do Skyrim mods, I don't make jack from that hobby. But don't deceive yourself into thinking that you're "saving money" or being "frugal". No self-delusion, that's the idea.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    I do Skyrim mods, I don't make jack from that hobby.

    Given what most Skyrim mods are, I'd say plenty of people make a form of Jack from that hobby.



  • Dammit blakey, reading my posts is a barrier to discourse!

    On that note, I was under the impression a wooden chassis would be able to ground properly from the psu, as it's literally just going to be mobo, psu, ram and hdds.

    You are correct there's a good chance of me fucking up the construction of the chassis, but little of me breaking the parts. (Frying is more likely) but most of these parts are from 2006 to 2010, consumer grade and will be using on board graphics.

    I also don't expect you to read my mind, which is why I'm taking the time to elaborate. I 100% agree that if I could afford real hardware I should get it.

    Right now my virtual server is a quad core 3ghrz machine with an i5 and 32gb ram. It does well for small scale out under load, but it starts bogging after several vms.

    Related to the psu, I have to buy a laptop compatible one, the desktops have serviceable ones

    Related to blood sweat and tears cost, yes, it's time is money, but I enjoy computers more than working fast food.

    If you're curious wtf I'm doing that requires this concept, I'm working on a persistent 3d game that has ongoing ai calculations for several zones.



  • @Matches said:

    On that note, I was under the impression a wooden chassis would be able to ground properly from the psu, as it's literally just going to be mobo, psu, ram and hdds.

    Motherboards ground to their mounting plate through the mounting screws. Basically, motherboards assume all steel parts in the case are the ground and, while the PSU has its own ground wire, the companies that make motherboards don't fucking bother to run the 7" trace to the PSU ground when they could run a 1" trace to the nearest mounting screw ground.

    The other components, PSU, RAM, HDDs, those all have grounding pins and you don't have to worry about screwing those onto wood. Except the PSU does need to be wired to the steel parts, but that's at least just one wire and one one-wire-per-screw.

    @Matches said:

    You are correct there's a good chance of me fucking up the construction of the chassis, but little of me breaking the parts. (Frying is more likely) but most of these parts are from 2006 to 2010, consumer grade and will be using on board graphics.

    2006 parts aren't worth keeping. The power cost alone pays for newer parts in like 6 months. Unless mommy and daddy are paying the electrical bill. You can buy a single 2014 computer and consolidate all of your pre-2010 hardware on it.

    @Matches said:

    Related to the psu, I have to buy a laptop compatible one, the desktops have serviceable ones

    Right but if you're running 5 desktop motherboards, and all have their own PSUs and all have their own GPUs and all have their own networking hardware and etc... what do you gain by putting them in one case? What's the benefit? If you really want them to move as one unit, just grab some super-glue and glom them together with that. There. Solved.

    @Matches said:

    Related to blood sweat and tears cost, yes, it's time is money, but I enjoy computers more than working fast food.

    Yeah but if you're planning to sell software, wouldn't your time be better spent building that software than super-gluing 2006 desktops together?



  • Yeah. Alright, point about consolidation.

    That's disappointing.



  • So let's switch directions for the real need. How about something extremely high calculations per second? I've pondered using the bitcoin mining rig, but I think it's too specifically focused towards mining. (Not really surprising.)



  • @Matches said:

    How about something extremely high calculations per second?

    For what purpose?

    The type of "calculations per second" that Pixar does is vastly different than the type that Bank of America does.



  • Sorry, I ninja edited an earlier post.

    Ai calculations for 3d game state and decisioning



  • @Matches said:

    Sorry, I ninja edited an earlier post.

    Ai calculations for 3d game state and decisioning

    Then I doubt a Bitcoin mining rig would do you any good. Ditto a GPU. Unless you've already written the code with that in mind, you'd have to rewrite from scratch and your AI would have to have a very simple decision tree to be moved in/out of GPU memory quick enough. You need CPUs.



  • This is exactly why I decided against the bitcoin machine, but I don't know of viable alternatives



  • There are two, which you've already rejected out-of-hand it seems:

    1. Cloud computing, buy your CPUs from Amazon or Microsoft or Rackspace or whatever
    2. Traditional CPU-heavy servers

    Good luck. I'm going to bed.



  • Not out of hand, just out of reach, cost wise.

    Night!



  • This used to be my home server:

    (note: that's a single machine, just some disks are off-loaded to a second chassis with their own power supply)

    Then I bought a SuperMicro chassis and got an old rack one day, and now I instead have this:

    (originally I had a desktop motherboard in there, but I switched that with a SuperMicro server board a few years ago)

    It's primarily for storage and development. I've got several VMs running on there, and since it's in the basement, it's noise doesn't bother anybody.



  • @ender said:

    (note: that's a single machine, just some disks are off-loaded to a second chassis with their own power supply)

    DON'T ENCOURAGE HIM



  • WTF hardware builds are fine for personal use only. I had a bitcoin miner that was PC parts sitting caseless on top of my dresser. And one time I accidentally bumped one of the GPUs, got a 1/4" static spark from me to the GPU, and the whole thing went down. That just ain't kosher if it's for business or anyone else is relying on its uptime. (It survived, started working again after a power-cycle.)

    I just built a new ESXi game server for under $900. It has an AMD FX-8350, 32 GB RAM, a pair of 1 TB drives in RAID-1, and a UPS backup battery. And apart from the UPS, it's all in a cheap MicroATX case with 4 120mm fans that stays cool and is easy to hide. It'll cost more, but getting a couple setups like that will be easier and far more reliable than what you're proposing. A rack is even better if you know you'll be expanding.


  • Grade A Premium Asshole

    Take a look at eBay and pick up some Dell C-series (made by SuperMicro). Right now there are PE c2100 machines on there for $400 that have 12 hard drive trays and can accommodate a shitload of RAM and processing power. Load XenServer on it and you are good to go.

    You want cheaper? Pick up a PE2950 for almost nothing and do that same. Not near the processing power, but more than sufficient for a dev environment. If you look for bargains, you can pick them up for less than $100/per.

    Doing what you propose is a really bad idea.



  • Now this is much more what I was looking for in terms of price and what you get.

    This is a good recommendation, thank you.


  • Grade A Premium Asshole

    Welcome. I feel far too many companies get tied up on having the "latest and greatest", for some reason. Yeah, when you are dealing with entire data centers of servers running at full tilt at peak, it makes sense to go that route. I have consulted on the business plan and hardware for several startups. They always start out thinking that they need the latest and greatest and I always try to steer them towards recent used hardware for a fraction of the price.



  • To be fair, you're actually arguing the opposite position here :stuck_out_tongue:

    But getting one of the PE2950 will probably be cheaper/almost identical to buying the materials needed to build the rack out. (199+50 ship is about the cheapest I've seen) - and is likely to be significantly more powerful.


  • Grade A Premium Asshole

    Just be aware of its limitations. A PE2950 is a C2D gen machine. They do use a fair chunk of power, and they are not nearly as powerful as an i-series Intel server. But, with 16GB or more of RAM, you can virtualize and prove that things are working the way they should. We used them for a while for dev spaces, but have retired most of them now.



  • To put your mind at ease, I picked up one of these instead.

    It should get me by for now, and can be upgraded / additional units purchased if required and is low cost.



  • Good, you made a far smarter choice.



  • You have received:

    A Blakeycompliment!



  • Zero III is totally going to kill you for that.



  • I fear no fictional entities!



  • @PJH
    Is this rare enough to qualify for a badge?



  • @Matches said:

    Is this rare enough to qualify for a badge?

    Possibly. Stuff like that is on hold for the moment however...


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